Wilders nominated for free speech prize

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Dutch Euro-MP Barry Madlener, a member of the far-right Freedom Party, has put forward his party leader Geert Wilders as a candidate for the Sakharov Prize.

The prize, named after the Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, is awarded annually by the European parliament to individuals and organisations that have contributed significantly to freedom of speech.

"It's a scandal that someone in a European country should be prosecuted for defending a basic right such as freedom of speech," Mr Madlener commented. Mr Wilders is currently on trial in the Netherlands for inciting discrimination against Muslims through remarks in the press and his anti-Islamic short film Fitna.

Mr Madlener is busy collecting the 40 MEP signatures which are required for a nomination. The winner will be selected by the leaders of the parties within the European parliament.

Previous recipients of the Sakharov Prize include Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Last year it went to the Russian human rights organisation Memorial.

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